Hypothermia Preventing Life Jackets

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (4)
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Project Description 

Here in the Keweenaw, we know winter all too well. But, we don't allow winter weather to define our lives, we instead find ways to overcome cold temperatures and conquer massive amounts of snowfall.

One thing we Yoopers love is the outdoors, in all sorts of formats. From skiing, to snowshoeing, to snowmobiling, to ice fishing in the winter, and from hiking, to mountain biking, to hunting and fishing in the warm months (well, warmer), we have found ways to explore and enjoy the beautiful land we call home. Being surrounded by a beautiful and vast Great Lake all around, plenty of water activities are always close at hand.

Lake Superior Comes With Its Own Dangers

As our community has felt on too many occasions, Lake Superior can be dangerously cold. Water throughout the world can reach dangerously low temperatures, but Superior stays at these cold temperatures almost every day of the year. But why does a cold lake matter? Because whether you are fishing at your favorite hidden shore, kayaking around Isle Royale, or leisurely canoeing near your home, if you fall into those cold temperatures, you could be in trouble.

Shock can take an immediate toll on your body, and hypothermia can set in only minutes after.


Unfortunately, it has. Members of our Upper Peninsula community have tried to enjoy the Great Lake around us, and one accident has caused them their lives. Our goal is to stop this.

We are looking for ways to keep you safe. To keep you warm. To get help when you need it. And most importantly, we are looking for ways to let you keep enjoying the beautiful area we get to call home.

But How?

We are going to take the safety technology many of you use today, an item we are all familiar with: the life jacket. But we are going to take that common item and turn it into something that can truly keep you safe in our climate. We are exploring two simple upgrades to make the life jacket better save your life every time.


Our first upgrade is to integrate heating technology throughout the vest, keeping the core of your body warmer for longer, and lessening the dramatic impacts of shock. By heating your torso, we can keep your internal organs at a safe temperature for a larger duration, then let the body's natural control of heat do the rest. But, what good is warmth if you're still stuck in the middle of a lake? That's where part two comes in.

GPS Location

If you are in the middle of a lake, you may not be able to swim back. If you are in the middle of a signal 'dead-zone', you can't call for help. But, what you can use anywhere on the globe? Satellite GPS location. We will embed a GPS distress beacon within the jacket that is able to provide an accurate and reliable location of where you are. When you need help? That position will be relayed to local law enforcement and search and rescue organizations to send you the help you need, the moment you need it.

Will it all work?

We think so. We have conducted interviews with exploring yoopers, experienced boaters, and rescue organizations around the UP; the idea checks out. Through research and further questioning, we have a solid plan on how to reliably, safely, and affordably put these technologies together. However, we need to test this, build prototypes, and start building (and breaking, and building again) our systems until they are ready for you to use. Materials and tools aren't free, and that's why we need your help.

We are looking for funding to purchase prototyping materials and tools so we can test our plans and refine our model until it can save lives, every time.

We want you to be able to conquer the Keweenaw any day of the year.

Meet the Researchers

Cameron Philo

3rd Year Electrical Engineering student at Michigan Tech
Pavlis Honors College, New Venture Pathway

A driven and passionate student, interested in finding innovative ways to provide positive impact to the lives of those around me

Lisa Casper

Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship Program Manager, Michigan Technological University
Master of Business Administration, University of Oregon
Bachelor of Science Aeronautical Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronauitical University

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of $1,500 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $15
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Your donations can help us get to the end goal of creating a local business dedicated to providing innovative solutions to keep you safe on the water. Our next step is to prototype until we have a strong working design to move forward with. Once this is complete, we would like to begin early customer use testing, while also obtaining certifications necessary for a water safety device. Your donations help us in the journey by giving us the ability to obtain the tools and materials to turn our design into a reality.

$10 4 Funders

Email Newsletter about Project Updates

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Interview with Founding Members

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Recognition as Early Stage Sponsor at Product Launch

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Gifts to projects listed on SUPERIORIDEAS.ORG are received and processed by Michigan Tech Fund. Michigan Tech Fund is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code acting on behalf of Michigan Technological University. It is the policy of Michigan Tech Fund that a portion of the gifts and/or income therefrom may be used to defray the costs of raising and administering the funds.